The recent protests in Hong Kong and the hotly contested 2020 presidential election in Taiwan both center on the two societies’ relationships with China. For many in these two societies, especially young people, deeper ties with China threaten the values of democracy and autonomy they hold dear. These controversies also pose difficult choices for the U.S., which is committed to support the autonomy of both places even as China asserts greater influence and U.S.-China relations deteriorate with the tensions on the trade imbalances and China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property.
Since June, protests in Hong Kong sparked by proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to the mainland for trial in those courts have grown in size and intensity. Recently, the territory’s leader, Carrie Lam, has withdrawn the contentious extradition bill. However, the protesters have five demands and continue to chant “five demands, not one less.” On October 1st the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) celebrates its 70th anniversary. The question remains: How will Communist party leaders resolve these protests?
On the matter of Taiwan, this year is the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which defines the non-diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the people on Taiwan. The U.S. policy attempts both to dissuade Taiwan from a unilateral declaration of independence and to dissuade the PRC from unilaterally unifying Taiwan with the mainland.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in a speech this past January indicated his growing impatience with the unification when he exhorted Taiwan to accept that they “must and will be” unified with the mainland under Beijing’s concept of “one country, two systems.” The reaction to this speech by the various Taiwan political parties as they approach the 2020 elections was uniformly negative. The question is: Will Taiwan become a second Hong Kong—one country, two systems? Our speakers for the October meeting are eminently qualified to address the current China issues. Harry Harding is University Professor of Public Policy and Faculty Senior Fellow in the Miller Center of Public Affairs at UVA. He is also Adjunct Chair Professor and Yushan Scholar in the School of Social Sciences at National Chengchi University in Taipei. He has published several major books on China, including Organizing China: The Problem of Bureaucracy, 1949-1976, and he is presently writing a history of US-China relations since the mid-1990s.
Harding served as the founding dean of UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy from 2009 to 2014. Before this position at UVA, Harding, completed two terms as dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. More recently, he has held visiting positions at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the University of Hong Kong. A graduate of Princeton, he received his PhD from Stanford in political science.
Syaru Shirley Lin is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Lecturer at UVA. She also teaches at Tsinghua University (Beijing) and National Chengchi University (Taipei). Her book, Taiwan’s China Dilemma, was published by Stanford University Press in 2016 and in Chinese in 2019. Professor Lin is currently working on the high income trap in East Asia. Her commentaries frequently appear in both English and Chinese media.
Previously, she was a partner at Goldman Sachs, where she led the firm’s private equity and venture capital efforts in Asia. She spearheaded the firm’s investments in many technology start-ups and was a founding board member of the Alibaba Group and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. Lin graduated from Harvard College and earned a PhD from the University of Hong Kong.
6:00 Cocktails 6:45 Dinner 7:45 Address and Discussion